We need more restaurant managers like Jeremy Draper of Outback Steakhouse
Management Makes a Positive Difference
I came across a nice article from examiner.com (which, as an aside, I’ve found to have many positive articles about food allergies) entitled, “Management that makes a positive difference – starfish award.” Now, I confess that I have no idea what the “starfish award” is, but I found the content of the article inspiring enough to share here.
The article is about how an Outback Steakhouse manager, named Jeremy Draper, went above and beyond for a food allergic patron.
The diner, a woman, “could not eat margarine, could not eat the kind of bread served, couldn’t have certain spices, and could only eat specific vegetables.”
These are obviously not the more common food allergens and would likely pose a greater challenge even to those restaurants who train their employees to accommodate diners with food allergies. I say that with the memory fresh in my mind of bringing my son to a restaurant (name withheld “to protect the innocent”… though the experience has been shared via the AllergyEats database) where the waiter was clearly not comfortable dealing with food allergies, though the restaurant at least had an “allergy book.”
The book was organized by allergy. It showed the menu items that were safe for individuals with each specific “major” allergy. Of course, I had to cross reference my son’s multiple allergies, but at least I could order him an adequate (and that’s being generous) meal. How much more difficult would it have been for this woman, given the lack of a list for her food allergies? My point being that this restaurant probably considered itself allergy-friendly for having a book, but sometimes you need more than just a book (though I would never discourage having such a book).
And that’s where Jeremy Draper comes in.
“With a smile on his face and a positive voice, Jeremy worked with the patron to meet her needs. Going beyond the requests she was making, he offered several suggestions. He made sure that every possible accommodation was made. He worked with the server as a team member – not taking over, yet not just being a passerby.
“That was not the end. He came back several times to make sure everything was as close as possible to meeting the lady’s needs. Overall, this manager showed more than money concerns; he showed a willingness to do whatever he could to be of service.
“The woman has returned several times. Although there are hundreds of customers that eat at the Outback at that location [near the Karcher Mall in Idaho], Jeremy recognizes the lady, and is always willing to help.
“Jeremy’s kind of action is a worthwhile focus. It is good for people. It is good for business.”
Well, I guess he’s certainly deserving of a starfish award! (OK, could somebody fill me in on what that is?)
In all seriousness, this is a great article demonstrating that being more than just “allergy-accommodating,” but “allergy-friendly” serves as a win-win for a patron and a restaurant. The patron can enjoy a restaurant meal and feel more comfortable returning to that restaurant, while the restaurant gains the loyalty of that patron (and however many other people he or she brings), helping their bottom line profits. Further, the manager is also likely rewarded if the diner does the right thing and notifies the owner of his or her wonderful treatment.
My family had a similar situation with a Famous Dave’s Barbeque Restaurant in our area until it unfortunately closed (a very disappointing day for my food-allergic children as well as for my BBQ-lovin’ taste buds). The hostess was always so accommodating that we often went back (especially when family was in town… meaning sometimes over a dozen patrons!) and she eventually came to know us and our situation when we walked through the door. That was so comforting. Famous Dave’s earned our loyalty and our dollars (though I guess we would’ve had to spend more to keep them open).
Thoughts? Comments? Do you get this same kind of accommodation and courtesy at your favorite restaurant? Any restaurants or managers in your local area that you’d like to publicly praise? [We’re also sending the franchise owner a copy of this blog entry.] If so, click on Leave a Reply below and share your voice.
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